When considering lighting, homeowners can find it a little daunting to create the right look and highlight architectural areas of their home effectively. Light can impact mood, atmosphere, ambience and general well being. Before you begin first and foremost ask yourself – “what is the purpose of this room?”
Living rooms tend to warrant softer lighting to create a space dedicated to relaxation, calm and homeliness. Whereas “active” rooms such as kitchens require more focused lighting. Down lighting key areas within rooms really make a difference to what you are able to see and do without the need to flood the entire space.
When considering the purpose of the room, the lighting is not only about where and how, but choosing your bulb colour can have an effect on your mood and atmosphere. Warm white will create a pleasant glow, where as cool white has a much brighter clinical look, much nearer to natural light than the old fashioned bulbs we have been used to. Cool white contains more blue and therefore brighter on the human eye where warm white has a slight more traditional feel with a yellowish tinge.
Moving on from the purpose of the room, there are four main types of light you can consider:
Ambient - this is the overall glow to the room, it is designed to create enough light for you to see and move about comfortably in the space. It provides enough light to function day to night (depending on season/natural light in the room) as well as bringing that homely feeling we all want.
General – natural light will change throughout the day, it is dependent on which way the room faces and where your windows/doors are. Some rooms change purpose as well as feel throughout the day as the natural light changes, you should keep this in mind when designing the function of the room to maximise its potential and how you feel in the room at all times.
Accent – this is designed to draw your attention to areas of interest; a feature, plant or artwork for example. You can have fun with accent lighting playing around with focusing the direction, the brightness, the colour and type of light used.
Task – task lighting provides direct light in areas in which you are working. Differing from accent lighting it is essential for working areas i.e. ideal for studying, cooking, dressing. It reduces the glare from flooding a room with light, task light is needed for productivity or aspects of day to day life which require full focus.
Each of these can be used singularly or simultaneously within a room, it is all about exploring and experimenting to create a feel that is the best fit for purpose – this is where layering plays a key part in your lighting design.
So to put this into context let’s consider the lighting in your kitchen, as this room tends to be the heart of the home where multiple activities take place. A kitchen subconsciously has zones: an area to prep food; potentially eating; socialising and relaxing.Recessed down lights will create your ambient lighting, to help position these start with the corners as these tend to be the darkest areas. Positioning them around 700mm from the edge of the room, also adding down lights to your walk way areas - avoiding spreading them all over the ceiling in a machine gun approach! Your general light will come from any existing windows or doorways you have within your kitchen. To create accent lighting this can either be spotlights within your plinth or wall lights which illuminate a specific piece of wall art, alcove – areas which can make your kitchen feel more than just a function room creating a fun/feeling of home.
Finally for your task lighting, this tends to be your under counter lighting such as LED strips or spotlights this will create focused lighting when you are working at your counter top. Extractor fan also tend to have incorporated task lighting, so use these in your scheme also. Task light can also be provided by pendant lights over your dining room table or kitchen island, these add an additional decorative and focal point to a kitchen design. With these four ways of using lighting as a guidebook for design, you can create and shape your interiors.
The most effective lighting scheme will include multiple layers of lights creating texture, flexibility and illumination where it’s most required. However, remember the key to successful lighting is to not over do it and keep the purpose of the room at the forefront of your design.
Looking to the future, voice recognition and automatic lighting control is becoming increasingly popular. Being able to switch your lights on via voice activation certainly has its perks. With smart technology there are colour changing bulbs which can help set the mood within the room creating a interchangeable ambience. This system however is not for everyone but is defiantly worth considering when finalising your lighting plan.
Enjoy planning your lighting!